The word "Yatra" comes from Sanskrit and is defined as a procession or pilgrimage, especially one with a religious purpose.
If you know my father, you'll know that he is not a religious man. He's deeply spiritual and incredibly wise. He's an intellectual person and a philosopher. He was forced to take early retirement when he was 60 due to some medical issues. This was an incredibly difficult time for the family and we all dealt with it in our own way. I watched my dad struggle and spiral into depression. Sometimes life isn't, but that shouldn't stop one from being kind towards life. And with that, my dad went to work. In the darkness he found his light and his true calling... spread the wealth of knowledge, especially to his country-folk in Sindh located (in now Pakistan). Since this is not my story, I will take an excerpt from a grant requesting letter my father wrote to explain his mission:
"Knowing that ignorance and extremism is on the rise in Sindh, partly due to lack of education in general and Science in particular. Also knowing that state institutions are not only not taking any efforts to curb this trend but at times patronizing undemocratic and fundamentalist elements of society. Marred with corruption, nepotism, incompetence and under-funding, the state education institutions can not foster awareness and critical thinking in our public and youth. This creates space for democratic and secular elements of diaspora to fill this void, if and when they can and with whatever capabilities.
A long struggle with my disability, followed by my retirement in 2012, I decided to study and understand Nature as viewed from Natural Science’s point of view myself, and share it with the people close to me. In this regard, I started delivering Talks (a total of 4 sessions) to a group of 13 close friends, and we explored the very big (cosmology) and very small (quantum physics). And then I watched the ‘Cosmos’ documentary narrated by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, all 13 episodes, and wished to translate the subtitles in Sindhi to make this enormous body of Scientific Knowledge available to my people in homeland.
After efforts of over one year, I completed it in 2017. With this tool, I decided to visit my homeland for 5 months and show last episode of Cosmos - where it is all summed up, to the students of grade 9 to 12. Being retired and on public support, I approached my friends for contributions and so I acquired necessary means, the most expensive being ticket and suitable portable Projector. I am grateful to all of them who made it possible.
I did make that trip, and with first few schools visited, I understood a great need of dubbing the episode 13 in Sindhi to make students understand the content. I devoted one month to produce a dubbed version - despite various hurdles in the way. Next 25+ schools that I visited were the best time of my life.
After watching the documentary in their mother tongue, students were curious, engaging, inquisitive and enlightened. The Q&A session of 30 minutes in the end of viewing was very productive in propagating awareness about our physical reality from Scientific point of view.
I have therefore made it my mission to continue educating youth of Sindh in Science, my motto in Sindhi can be approximately stated in English as ‘Learn Science – Understand Science’. "
All this work takes time which my father has selflessly devoted, but beyond that there are material needs that require money for which he needs the help:
Following are the estimates of funds needed/arranged for this project.
Estimated expenses for 100 School visits in 5 months. (Cd$)
(Based on my experience during previous journey)
Air Travel and documentation. 3000
Travel expenses inland in Province of Sindh. 7000
Digital media (USB) to donate to visited schools. 2000
Living expenses. 3000
- Sohail Farooq
- Ayesha Haider
- Zahid Makhdoom
- - Anonymous
Organizer and beneficiary
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